After three days of tournament play, Yale won the consolation bracket to grab fifth place in the College Squash Association Men’s Team Nationals.

No. 5 Yale (10–6, 4-3 Ivy) competed in the CSA Potter Cup, the A-division tournament reserved for the top-eight teams, at the Brady Center. The Elis opened the tournament with a tough 8–1 loss to No. 4 Penn (14–4, 5–2), before defeating No. 8 Dartmouth (9–8, 3–4) 7–2. After falling into the consolation bracket, Yale claimed its fifth-place finish by dominating No. 6 Columbia (8–5, 4–3) 5–4. These results were a big improvement on last year, when the Bulldogs finished 10th in the nation after competing in the second division Hoehn cup. 

“We are extremely happy to finish top five in the nation after finishing 10th last year,” No. 3 Harrison Gill ’21 said. “Overall, the boys stepped up when it mattered today, and it’s great to end the season on a high for the departing seniors.”

Yale began the Potter Cup by facing Penn late Friday afternoon. Yale’s last contest against the Quakers in January ended in a disappointing 7–2 loss. Friday’s result parallelled the regular season, and the Bulldogs fell to Penn 8-–1, a result which dropped them into the Potter Cup’s consolation bracket for the remainder of the tournament.

Despite defeating Penn’s David Yacobucci in January, Gill could not keep the momentum going after grabbing the first game against Yacobucci, and he fell in four games. Yohan Pandole ’19 lost in a devastating, five-game contest. No. 4 Calvin McCafferty ’20 and No. 5 Tyler Carney ’21 also lost in five games, after winning their second and fourth games. McCafferty fell in the fifth 11–8, and Carney followed suit with an 11-–8 decision.

No. 7 Eric Kim ’22 was the only Eli to secure a win for the Elis. Kim fell 11–8 in a close first game, but reestablished his lead and triumphed 11–8, 11–5 and 11–8 to win in four.

Yale entered the consolation bracket to play Dartmouth on Saturday with sights set on finishing fifth place overall. When the two Ivy teams competed in the regular season, the Bulldogs overcame the Big Green with a definitive 7–2 result. The match on Saturday yielded the same results, propelling the Elis into the consolation finals against Columbia.

The top three Elis along with Kim swept their opponents. No. 1 Spencer Lovejoy ’20 crushed his opponent with 11–4 results across each of his three games, and No. 2 Nadav Raziel ’22 and Gill followed suit. Raziel, who has faced multiple injuries this season, fell in five games to the Big Green last week. In the urgency of nationals, Raziel overcame these mental and physical roadblocks to bring home his win in three games. Kim swept Dartmouth 11–9, 11–0 and 11–9.

“It’s important that we go into tomorrow confident in our abilities and making sure that we capitalize on our chances,” Pandole said after the victory over Dartmouth. “The team is determined to finish fifth and secure our highest finish in the three years since we won the championship.”

Saturday’s success did not stop with the players. Head coach Dave Talbott was inducted into the CSA Hall of Fame that afternoon in recognition of his 36th year coaching the Bulldogs and the massive success he has brought the Elis.

Under his tutelage, Talbott led the team to three national titles in 1989, 1990 and 2016. In addition, Talbott mentored the women’s team to three national titles in 2005, 2006 and 2011.

“Big shout out out to our head coach, Dave Talbott, for getting into the college squash hall of fame. No words can describe what a legend he is, and he truly deserves it,” Raziel said.

Yale’s triumph on Saturday set up a final match against Columbia on Sunday to close out the Bulldogs’ season. Columbia shutout Yale 9–0 during the regular season, adding even more tension to the air on Sunday. The Elis knew the level of competition on Sunday would be one of the most difficult of the entire tournament. When the Elis left the Brady Center Sunday with a 5–4 victory, the team not only redeemed itself after its regular season beatdown but also showcased the improvements made during the second half of the season.

Yale began Sunday with four wins from Gill, Kim, Pandole and Jacob Rhee ’21. All four Elis defeated their Lion opponents in four games or less. Pandole secured his first win of the tournament and final win as an Eli, winning in four controlled games.

As the afternoon progressed, the Bulldogs began to lose their grip on the match. Captain Jay Losty ’19, Lovejoy, Raziel and Carney all lost their games, bringing the score to 4–4. The final decision then fell on McCafferty’s shoulders at the No. 4 spot. Surrounded by his teammates, McCafferty clinched the win in five games to secure fifth place.

After rising five places from last season, the Bulldogs are a team on the up, and with seven of their top nine players returning next season, they have set the foundations for future success.

Boasting the oldest squash program in the United States, Yale squash was founded in 1920.

Lauren Cueto | lauren.cueto@yale.edu